Moruya, Township

The riverside township of Moruya contains a combination of interrelated places of Aboriginal cultural heritage. Burial grounds throughout the area have a date range between pre-contact to early contact to the present day. The ceremonial grounds documented remain in people’s memories, and have in most part been destroyed during the course of the growth of the area. The collection of natural resources took place throughout the 1900s and continues to the present day. Moruya is a place associated with both recreational and employment opportunities, and a place to be educated for generations of Aboriginal families. Despite the impact of settlement and the ongoing pressure related to residential and industrial development, Aboriginal people continue to maintain their connections to the Moruya area in a variety of ways including participating in family gatherings and making regular camping and fishing trips to places previously used by their ancestors.

Interlinked to the Moruya township area is Ryans Creek and the Moruya / Deua River. Each has been detailed separately below. A map detailing the main places is shown at the end of this section below.

As told to Trisha Ellis by her Nan Connell of two interlinked Ka parie or ceremonial grounds in the Moryua area [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

Nell was told how Aboriginal families would camp at the Moruya Lagoon and spear eels and fish. The Moruya Lagoon was located in the vicinity of the present day Gundary Oval. The Aboriginal camp extended to the hill where the Church of England is now [Nell Greig 19.12.2006].

The Moruya Town Wharf was used to unload fish and other goods. It was used by the Brierley and Davis families, when shopping, they would come to town in a boat from Garland town, docking here to load up their goods. Ernie Brierley would refuel his boat here, as fuel would not be delivered to Garland town or the Quarry Wharf [Maureen Davis 19.12.2005].

Doris recalls Moruya’s Rotary Park as a meeting place for Aboriginal families passing through Moruya. The park once extended further east, where the present day Moruya Swimming Pool is located and west to the old wooden bridge [which was located immediately west of the present day Moruya River Bridge]. The Circus would be held where the swimming pool is now. Doris entered the public pool once with her cousins Shirley Bell, Veronica, Helen and Shirley Andy. Doris did not return a second time because she preferred swimming in salt water. Next to the swimming pool was the main Moruya Wharf; Steam Ships would travel up the Moruya River to this point [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

Georgina recalls people sleeping on the grass in Rotary Park. There was a May Pole, a large slippery dip and fig trees. The fig trees were there when the first bridge over the Moruya River was built. ‘Everyone just knew to meet there…old ghosts, the ancestors walk around this area through to Ryans Creek’ [Georgina Parsons 14.12.2005].

The Moruya Mardi Gras was an event not to be missed. It was an annual event to raise monies to go towards the building of the new Bridge and Swimming Pool. Pop Davis had built a special ‘Tandem’ bike for himself that he used to ride to work. He would give it a fresh paint job ‘Fire Engine Red’ with silver handle bars rims, streamers, and air horn and enter it in the Mardi Gras. This bicycle is still with the family today and is known as the ‘Moruya Special’.

Another year there was a float entered by the fishermen called the ‘Garland Town Mermaids’. The float was made up of fishnets and burrawang leaves and the participants on the float were several of the daughters and cousins relating to the Brierley family. During the 1960s the family would meet over at the park opposite the Adelaide Hotel and spend the whole day together. This was a meeting place for Kooris travelling north or south and many of which were our aunts, uncles and cousins [Maureen Davis 8.6.2006].

Margaret often saw Percy Davis busking in Moruya. He wore a white suit and played a violin. Margaret’s father Leslie Stewart served in World War Two [Marg Harris 9.3.2006].

Maureen attended St Mary’s Star of the Sea, Catholic School Moruya, from kindergarten to year 6. To get to and from school Maureen her brothers, sisters and cousins would travel on the school bus from Garland Town to Moruya each day. Her family paid for the school fees through trading fish. Racism did exist in Moruya, but it was not until Maureen was older that she understood why certain things happened the way they did. For instance, during certain lessons, all the koori students would be given 6 pence and sent to the shop to buy lollies. Although not known at the time, this was during the teaching of social studies [Maureen Davis 5.5.2006].

During the 1950s Georgina and her family would get a ride from Nerrigundah to Moruya in Cardon’s red truck to shop. They would go to Price’s Café Moruya for hamburgers and milk shakes. Price’s was located where the Chinese Restaurant is today. They also visited Nader who owned the dress shop. He would allow them to get clothes on ‘book up’, paying for the clothes at a later date [Georgina Parsons 14.12.2005].

Whilst attending Moruya High School during the early 1980s, William took on work at a number of organisations including Price’s Café in Moruya [William Davis 22.5.2006].

Price’s Café was the most popular shop for koori people throughout the 1950s and 60s. Maureen used the Café as a meeting place because the owners were friendly [Maureen Davis 5.5.2006].

On Saturday’s during the 50s and 60s Linda, friends and family would catch a ride from Bodalla with Freddy Constable into Moruya to see a picture, at the Fiesta Picture Theatre. He had a truck with a tarp [Linda Colburn 11.5.2006].

Maureen remembers attending Saturday matinees and having to sit in the front stalls, in the far left corner, they were called ‘The Pictures’ then. She recalls koori people being served last during the intermission, and having to miss the beginning of the second half of the film. One day her father took her, the older children and Aunts to see the movie ‘South Sea Island’. Her father ensured that they all sat in the top stand, we were all very nervous because this was never done before. However, he achieved what he set out to do [Maureen Davis 5.5.2006].

George Parsons, Georgina Parson’s father would ride his white horse to the Adelaide Hotel from Fitzgerald’s Mill, Moruya South Head Road. The publican, Victor Turner would feed the horse and allow ‘Bimmy in for a charge’, even though he was not allowed to drink from the bar being Aboriginal [Georgina Parsons 14.12.2005].

When Doris was close to 18 years old, she began working at the Adelaide Hotel, then owned by Maude and George Mc Ivor who were good to Aboriginal people. Doris worked there on and off for the next 16 years. Any time she returned to Moruya, they would offer her a job straight away [Doris Moore 19.12.2005].

Georgina recalls travelling from Nerrigundah to the Monarch Hotel, when she first turned 18. She was not served alcohol because she did not have an ‘exemption certificate’ or ‘dog tag’, being Aboriginal. As a result of the prejudice she experienced at the public bar, she returned to Nerrigundah [Georgina Parsons 14.12.2005].

In 1954 Doris moved with her family from the hill, Garland Town, to ‘Mantle Hill’ at the southern end of Vulcan Street, Moruya. Walter Davis and Elizabeth Jane, Doris’s parents had lived in the house since the 1950s. Following the death of her mother ‘Millie’ in 1962 Maureen and her family had moved from Garland Town to Mantle Hill to live with their grandparents ‘Nan and Pop’ Walter and Jane Davis [nee Brierley] and other family members. One of Roy’s daughters, Maureen recalls hunting rabbits, and collecting blackberries, mushrooms and yams in the area. The house remains at the far south-eastern side of the road [Doris Moore 14.12.2005 and Maureen Davis 19.12.2005].

Georgina lived in Maunsell St, Moruya during the 1950s. She was taken to hospital to give birth to her son Robert [dec] from this house. Cyril and Doreen Parsons, Georgina’s brother and sister – in- law also lived there with them [Georgina Parsons 14.12.2005].

Pop Connell had a huge vegetable garden at his house, at the southern end of Maunsell Street, Moruya. Trisha recalls catching rabbits and kangaroos in the area between Maunsell Street and the abattoirs [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

Les Simon’s great, great, great grandmother [his mother’s father’s, father’s father’s mother] was ‘Sally Gundary’, from the Gundary tribe. Sally was Henry Richard Chapman’s mother [Les Simon 3.11.2005].

My mother’s father was Amos Donovan, his father was Steven Donovan; and his mother was Elizabeth Chapman. Our family relates back to Rosa Bolloway, Sally Gundary and Nimebur of Broulee [Trisha Ellis 1.6.2006].

The Moruya Cemetery is a very important place for Linda Cruse and the Davis family. Ted Davis [Linda’s husband] is buried with his eldest brother Roy Davis [Maureen’s father]. Generations of family members are buried here [Linda Cruse 1.3.2006].

In 1918 Richard Piety was buried at the Moruya Cemetery, as was Walter Brierley in 1956. Maureen’s mother and father are buried here; Millie died in 1962 and Roy died in 1972 [Maureen Davis 19.12.2005].

Margaret’s father is buried at the Moruya Cemetery [Margaret Harris 9.3.2006].

A number of Trisha Ellis’s relatives are buried at the Moruya Cemetery including her mother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as great aunts and uncles. Trisha’s Nan and Pop Connell both relate to Richard Piety who is buried at the Old Moruya Cemetery, Glenduart [Trisha Ellis 1.6.2006].

Taken from “Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People”. View the full study

Excerpt from "Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People", 2006. Story Contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.